The France team holds the World Cup trophy
|Event||2018 FIFA World Cup|
|Date||15 July 2018|
|Venue||Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow|
|Man of the Match||Antoine Griezmann (France)|
|Referee||Néstor Pitana (Argentina)|
27 °C (81 °F)
The 2018 FIFA World Cup Final was the final match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. It was the 21st final of the FIFA World Cup, a quadrennial association football tournament contested by the men's national teams of the member associations of FIFA. The match was contested by France and Croatia and held at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, on 15 July 2018.
Before 2018, France's only World Cup victory was in 1998 — though they had also reached the final in 2006 — while Croatia were playing in their first World Cup final. Both teams had defeated former World Cup champions on their way to the final: France defeated 1930 and 1950 winners Uruguay, Croatia defeated 1966 winners England and both teams defeated 1978 and 1986 winners Argentina. Croatia became the third Eastern European nation to reach the World Cup final, and the first since Czechoslovakia lost the final in 1962 to Brazil.
France won the match 4–2, having taken a 2–1 lead during the first half on an own goal and penalty awarded by the video assistant referee (VAR) in the system's first use at a World Cup final. It was also the first time that an own goal had been scored in a World Cup final. France also became the second team in the 32-team World Cup to win all their knockout matches without any extra time or penalty shoot-out after Brazil in 2002. As winners, France qualified for the 2021 FIFA Confederations Cup.
The final was played at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, located in the Khamovniki District of the Central Administrative Okrug. An expanded version of the stadium was named as the provisional final venue in Russia's World Cup bid, which was selected by FIFA on 2 December 2010. Luzhniki Stadium was confirmed as the final venue on 14 December 2012, following a meeting of the FIFA Executive Committee held in Tokyo, Japan. The stadium also hosted six other matches, including the opening match on 14 June, three group stage matches, a round of 16 match, and the second semi-final match.
The Luzhniki Stadium, previously known as the Grand Arena of the Central Lenin Stadium until 1992, originally opened in 1956 as part of the Luzhniki Olympic Complex to host the USSR Summer Spartakiade. The stadium has served as the national stadium of the country, hosting many matches for the Russia national team and its predecessor, the Soviet Union national team. In the past, the stadium has been used as the home ground at various times for CSKA Moscow, Torpedo Moscow, and Spartak Moscow. However, there are currently no clubs based at the stadium.
The stadium has hosted numerous international sporting events. The stadium was the main venue for the 1980 Summer Olympics, hosting the opening and closing ceremonies, athletics, football (four matches, including the gold medal match), and the Individual Jumping Grand Prix. The stadium hosted the 1999 UEFA Cup Final, as well as the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final. Other events staged include the Spartakiad, the final game of the 1957 Ice Hockey World Championships, the 1973 Summer Universiade, the Friendship Games in 1984, the 1986 Goodwill Games, and the 1998 World Youth Games. In 2013, the Rugby World Cup Sevens and World Athletics Championships were held at the ground in front of sparse crowds. The stadium has also served as a venue for many concerts, including Western artists after the fall of the Soviet Union, as well as political rallies.
Rated as a category 4 stadium by UEFA, the Luzhniki Stadium is the largest in Russia and at the 2018 World Cup; it usually has a maximum capacity of 81,006, but was reduced to 78,011 for the World Cup. This also makes the stadium the largest in Eastern Europe, and among the largest in Europe. To prepare for the World Cup, the stadium was closed for extensive renovations in August 2013. The spectator stands were moved closer to the pitch, which was converted from artificial turf to natural grass, after the removal of the athletic track. The historic facade of the stadium was preserved due to its architectural value, while the roof was upgraded using a new polycarbonate skin with exterior lighting. The Luzhniki did not host any matches at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup due to the ongoing project. The renovation project cost €341 million, and the stadium officially reopened with an international friendly between Russia and Argentina on 11 November 2017.
After Uruguay and Brazil were eliminated in the quarter-finals, a European side was ensured to win the World Cup for a fourth consecutive tournament. The match was also the ninth all-European World Cup final, which most recently occurred in 2006 and 2010.
The match was the third World Cup final for France, first appearing in the 1998 final as hosts, winning 3–0 against reigning champions Brazil. France also contested the 2006 final, where they lost to Italy in a penalty shoot-out following a 1–1 draw. Only Germany (eight) and Italy (six) have reached more finals among European nations. Didier Deschamps became the fourth person to reach a World Cup final as both a player and as a manager, after Franz Beckenbauer, Rudi Völler, and Mário Zagallo.
The match was the first World Cup final for Croatia in their fifth World Cup appearance. They are the 10th European country and 13th overall to reach a World Cup final, and the first new finalist since Spain in 2010. With a population of 4.17 million, Croatia is the second smallest country (by population) to play in a World Cup final, behind Uruguay (victors in 1930 and 1950). Croatia's previous best performance was as World Cup debutants in 1998, when they finished in third place, losing 2–1 to hosts France in the semi-finals before beating the Netherlands 2–1 in the third place play-off.
The final was the sixth meeting between France and Croatia, with France undefeated in the previous fixtures with three wins and two draws. The two sides first met in the 1998 World Cup semi-final, with hosts France winning 2–1. Their only other competitive meeting was during the group stage of Euro 2004, which finished as a 2–2 draw. Their next, and most recent, meeting was in a March 2011 friendly match, which finished as a 0–0 draw.
|Group C winners
|Final standings||Group D winners
|Argentina||4–3||Round of 16||Denmark||1–1 (a.e.t.) (3–2 p)|
|Uruguay||2–0||Quarter-finals||Russia||2–2 (a.e.t.) (4–3 p)|
France entered the 2018 World Cup as one of the favourites to win the tournament, particularly for their strong squad featuring several youth talents. The team finished as runners-up to Portugal at Euro 2016, which the country hosted. The team qualified for the World Cup proper after finishing first in their qualification group, ahead of Sweden and the Netherlands.
At the World Cup, France were drawn into Group C alongside Australia, Denmark, and Peru. The team defeated Australia 2–1 in its opening match in Kazan, with a penalty called by the video assistant referee and scored by Antoine Griezmann followed by an own goal deflected by Australian defender Aziz Behich. In its second match, France won 1–0 over Peru on a goal scored by 19-year-old Kylian Mbappé, who became France's youngest goalscorer at a major tournament. The victory over Peru qualified France for the knockout stage, allowing manager Didier Deschamps to rest several starting players for the final group stage match against Denmark. The match at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow finished in a scoreless draw marked by misplaced passes and goalkeeping mistakes. The team's group stage performance was characterised as lacking cohesion and failing to use its star players effectively.
Finishing as winners of Group C, France were matched in the round of 16 with Group D runners-up Argentina. France won 4–3 on two goals scored by Mbappé, who also won a penalty in the opening minutes. Mbappé's performance drew comparisons to Brazilian stars Ronaldo and Pelé, who in 1958 was the most recent teenager to score twice in a World Cup match. In the quarter-finals, France defeated Uruguay 2–0 on a goal and assist by Griezmann. The team advanced to a semi-final match against Belgium in St. Petersburg, which ended in a 1–0 win for the French with a corner kick headed into the goal by defender Samuel Umtiti. The French team, particularly Mbappé, were criticised for timewasting and other unsportsmanlike conduct in the semi-finals after taking the lead in the second half.
Croatia entered the 2018 World Cup as potential contenders, with their golden generation led by forward Mario Mandžukić and midfielders Marcelo Brozović, Mateo Kovačić, Luka Modrić, Ivan Perišić, and Ivan Rakitić. The team had been eliminated in the group stage at the 2014 tournament, but reached the round of 16 at Euro 2016. In their qualification group, Croatia scored 15 goals and finished second to Iceland after appointing manager Zlatko Dalić amid a series of poor away results. However, Croatia managed to advance past Greece in the qualifying play-offs, winning the first leg 4–1 and drawing 0–0 in the second.
Croatia were drawn into Group D with Argentina, Iceland, and Nigeria, considered a difficult draw due to Argentina's talent and Nigeria's historic performances. In their opening match, the team earned a 2–0 victory over Nigeria, with an own goal by Oghenekaro Etebo caused by Mandžukić and a penalty scored by Modrić. Striker Nikola Kalinić refused to enter the match as a substitute and was expelled from the team by Dalić, leaving Croatia with only 22 players for the rest of the tournament. Croatia went on to upset Argentina with a 3–0 win, thanks to an effective game plan that used the "height and strength of their players to dominate the game in aerial duels", playing a "pressing game, counter-attacking, and more direct play in possession" to counter Lionel Messi, scoring all their goals in the second half. Croatia finished atop the group with a 2–1 win over Iceland, resting several starting players in the final group match.
In the round of 16, Croatia played Denmark and earned a 1–1 draw after the two teams exchanged goals in the opening five minutes and a missed penalty from Modrić in extra time. Croatia won the subsequent penalty shootout 3–2, with three saves by goalkeeper Danijel Subašić and two saves by Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. The team advanced to a quarter-final fixture with hosts Russia, who had defeated Spain in the round of 16, in Sochi. The Russians scored their first in the 31st minute, but Andrej Kramarić equalised for Croatia eight minutes later and kept the score at 1–1 through the end of regular time. Croatia took a 2–1 lead in extra time with a header by Domagoj Vida, but Russian defender Mário Fernandes equalised in stoppage time to trigger a penalty shootout. The shootout was won 4–3 by Croatia after two misses by Russia and a shot by Modrić that rebounded off the post and into the goal. Croatia became the second team in World Cup to win two shootouts in a tournament, after Argentina in 1990. After the match, a video of Vida saying "Glory to Ukraine" prompted controversy among Russians and a warning from FIFA's disciplinary committee, which enforces a ban on political slogans. Croatia's semi-final match against England at the Luzhniki began with a free kick goal by English defender Kieran Trippier in the fifth minute. Croatia resisted several attempts by England to score a second goal and earned an equalising goal of their own through a shot by Perišić in the 68th minute. The match was won 2–1 by Croatia after a 109th minute goal by Mandžukić.
The official match ball for the final was the Telstar Mechta (Russian: Мечта; dream or ambition), a red-coloured variant of the Adidas Telstar 18 introduced for the knockout stage. The Telstar family, an homage to the original 1970 Telstar, was designed similarly to 2014's Brazuca, but with longer seams and additional panels.
Argentine referee Néstor Pitana was selected to lead the officiating team for the final, which was announced on 12 July 2018 by the FIFA Referees Committee. The final is Pitana's fifth match as referee during the tournament, becoming only the second referee to officiate the opening match and the final. Pitana officiated an additional group stage match, along with two knockout stage matches in the round of 16 and quarter-finals. Pitana has been a FIFA referee since 2010, and officiated four matches at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. His compatriots Hernán Maidana and Juan Pablo Belatti were chosen as assistant referees. Björn Kuipers of the Netherlands was chosen as the fourth official, with his fellow countryman Erwin Zeinstra as the reserve assistant. Italian Massimiliano Irrati was named the video assistant referee, presiding over the first use of the technology at a World Cup final. Argentine Mauro Vigliano was chosen as the assistant video assistant referee, while Carlos Astroza of Chile was appointed as the second assistant and Danny Makkelie of the Netherlands as the third assistant.
The tournament's closing ceremony was held prior to the start of the match, featuring a performance of "Live It Up", the official song of the tournament, by Will Smith, Nicky Jam, and Era Istrefi. Jam also performed "X (Equis)", wearing a shirt honoring J Balvin. Opera singer Aida Garifullina sang the Russian folk song “Kalinka”, accompanied by a children's choir and percussion section that featured a cameo by Brazilian star Ronaldinho.
Croatia kicked off the final at 18:00 local time (15:00 UTC), with the ground temperature reported at 27 °C (81 °F). The match was played through a minor thunderstorm, which produced several visible lightning strikes. An audience of 78,011 spectators at the Luzhniki Stadium watched the match, including ten heads of state, among them Russian president Vladimir Putin, French president Emmanuel Macron, and Croatian president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović. The starting lineups for both teams were identical to those fielded in the semi-finals.
Croatia had the majority of possession and chances early in the first half, with the ball staying mostly in France's half. An attack by French midfielder Antoine Griezmann was stopped by a challenge from Marcelo Brozović, which was called as a foul despite claims that Griezmann dived. In the incident, Griezmann began falling before Brozović made contact. Griezmann took the ensuing 30-yard (27 m) free kick, which was diverted by the head of Mario Mandžukić into the left corner of his own net to give France the lead in the 18th minute. It was the first own goal to be scored in a World Cup final and the 12th of the tournament, the most of any World Cup.
Ten minutes later, Croatia equalised with a left-footed strike by Ivan Perišić to the right corner of the net, assisted by Domagoj Vida after a free kick by Luka Modrić on the right. In the 34th minute, a penalty was awarded against Croatia after Perišić's handball in the box from a corner on the right was reviewed by the video assistant referee. Griezmann scored the penalty in the 38th minute with a low finish to the left, giving France a 2–1 lead at half-time; the first half's three goals were the most of any World Cup final since 1974. France led at half-time despite having only one shot on goal and with only 34 percent of possession.
A Croatian counter-attack was stopped early in the second half after several pitch invaders were chased onto the field by security officers; Russian feminist rock band and protest group Pussy Riot claimed responsibility for the interruption. In the 59th minute, France extended their lead to 3–1 with a left-foot strike to the left of the net from the edge of the penalty area by Paul Pogba after his initial shot had been blocked. Six minutes later, Kylian Mbappé scored France's fourth goal, with a low right-foot shot from outside the box to the left of the net; Mbappé became the first teenager to score in a World Cup final since Pelé in 1958. Croatia scored their second goal in the 69th minute, as from a back-pass, France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris failed to dribble around Mandžukić, who poked the loose ball into the unguarded net with his right leg. Despite a late push by Croatia, the match finished as a 4–2 victory for France and the highest-scoring World Cup final since 1966.
France became the sixth country to win the World Cup more than once and qualified for the 2021 FIFA Confederations Cup with their win. Didier Deschamps became the third person to have won the World Cup as both a player and manager, after Franz Beckenbauer and Mário Zagallo. The final was the highest scoring since 1966, and the highest score in regular time since 1958. The trophy and winner's medals were presented to the French team by presidents Putin, Macron, and Grabar-Kitarović amid a heavy rainstorm.
Croatian captain Luka Modrić won the Golden Ball as best player of the tournament. France's Antoine Griezmann, the final's man of the match, also won the Bronze Ball and the Silver Boot award with four goals and two assists. Kylian Mbappé won the Best Young Player award for the tournament.
Large crowds, including 90,000 people at the Eiffel Tower fanzone and an estimated one million on the Champs-Élysées, celebrated the victory in Paris. The celebrations were marred by instances of rioting that were broken up by police, as well as the deaths of at least two people during celebrations elsewhere in the country (one man died after diving into a shallow canal and another died after crashing his car into a tree) RATP, operator of the Paris Métro system, temporarily renamed several stations in honour of the team and its World Cup victory. On 16 July, more than 550,000 fans welcomed the Croatian team home in the capital city of Zagreb, in the single largest public gathering in Croatia's history, where a six-hour-long bus tour brought them from Zagreb Airport to Ban Jelačić Square.
In France, the final was televised on TF1 and drew an average of 19.3 million viewers, with a peak of 22.3 million and had a market share of 82.2%, making it the seventh-most watched event ever and the most-watched football match since 2002. In England, the final had an average viewership of 10.5 million and a peak viewership of 13.8 million, split between free-to-air broadcasters BBC One and ITV, almost half that of the viewership of England—Croatia semi-final. In Germany, the match drew a viewership of 21.3 million, which was around 76% of the market share, on state-owned ZDF. In Spain, the match had a 57.3% share, with 8.2 million viewers on Mediaset España Comunicación's Telecinco. In Croatia, the match drew around 1.538 million viewers — more than 38% of the population — on national broadcaster HTV2 for a 89.3% market share. In Italy, it drew 11.7 viewers on Canale 5. In the Netherlands, the match had a viewership of 3.1 million on NPO1. In the host nation of Russia, the final was the third-most watched match of the 2018 World Cup and accounted for around 50% of the nation's population.
According to figures published by FIFA, the World Cup final was watched by around 900 million viewers worldwide. In the United States of America, the match was broadcast on NBCUniversal-owned Telemundo and 21st Century Fox-owned Fox and Fox Sports, the match averaged 16.6 million viewers combined, with Telemundo reaching a total of 57% of total Latino population. In India, 70 million viewers streamed the match online, through Sony Picture Networks India's (SPN) Sony Liv application, which was a record for a football match; an additional 22.4 million viewers watched the match on Sony Ten 2, Sony Ten 3 and Sony ESPN. In China, the match drew a combined of 56 million viewers on state-broadcasters CCTV-1 and CCTV-5 for an 11 PM time-slot and was the most-watched sporting event in China since Beijing Olympics in 2008. In Australia, the final was watched by an average of 2.2 million viewers — with a peak of 3.4 million viewers — on national public broadcaster SBS. Whereas, in Canada, the final was watched by an average of 3.9 million viewers, with a peak of 5.4 million viewers on CTV, TSN and RDS.
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